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Knowledge of face masks and attitudes to re-sterilisation among healthcare workers

  • O’Byrne, Ciara1
  • Kenny, Fred2
  • Eustace, Sarah3
  • Gibbons, John P.4
  • 1 Mater Misericordiae Hospital,
  • 2 University of Limerick,
  • 3 National University of Ireland,
  • 4 Department of Orthopaedics, National Orthopaedic Hospital, Cappagh, Finglas, Dublin 11, Ireland
Published Article
Irish Journal of Medical Science
Springer International Publishing
Publication Date
Feb 08, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s11845-020-02493-z
PMID: 33559047
PMCID: PMC7870031
PubMed Central
  • Original Article


Introduction COVID-19 was declared a pandemic in March 2020. With the sudden surge in demand for personal protective equipment (PPE), significant concerns regarding the ongoing availability emerged. One solution proposed is re-sterilisation of respirator masks and this has been commenced in some parts of the world. On review of the literature, very little is documented regarding the knowledge of masks and the attitudes of healthcare workers towards using re-sterilised masks. Methods A comprehensive questionnaire was used to assess general knowledge and attitudes around facemasks and respirators. Results There were 190 respondents. There were significant gaps in knowledge and understanding of when particular face masks should be worn. One-third had significant concerns about ongoing availability. One-third had concerns about the quality of the masks as the pandemic continued. Only 10% of respondents underwent formal face-fitting. Eighty percent of respondents stated they would wear a re-sterilised mask. A further 15% would use a re-sterilised mask but required certain reassurances. Five percent of our respondents would not use a re-sterilised mask under any circumstances. Discussion Ensuring an adequate understanding of face masks is crucial among healthcare workers (HCWs) and this study highlights a need for further education. It also demonstrates a general acceptability among HCWs towards the use of re-sterilised face masks. Supplementary Information The online version of this article (10.1007/s11845-020-02493-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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